A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that 1BR is a horror movie that dabbles in social commentary. A woman is kidnapped, drugged, and tortured by a cult claiming they'll help improve her life. To that end, she's forced to stand in a stress position for what may be days. When she falls, cult leaders nail her hands to the wall to keep her in place. Violence is graphic and gratuitous. She's branded with a hot iron. A man threatens her with a gun. Someone tries to hammer a long screwdriver through someone's ear. A man is stabbed repeatedly with a screwdriver and blood spatters on someone's face. People are shot. A sick woman is "euthanized" by her community. They place a bag over her head and fill it with gas. A cat is placed in an oven and burned to death. A woman is held in a cult community and expected to have sex with a man she doesn't like and then raise his children. Adults drink alcohol. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "ass," " damn," and "hell."
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What's the story?
Angry at her dad for cheating on her sick mom, young Sarah (Nicole Brydon Bloom) runs off to start fresh and seek her fortune in Los Angeles. The title's 1BR is the apartment she finds in a complex filled with friendly neighbors happy to welcome her into their community. But when the pipes make horror movie noises every night and someone breaks in to roast her cat in her own oven one night, it's clear she has stumbled into something far more like the Roach Motel (you can check in but you can’t check out) than a cozy one-year lease. She's drugged and tied up, then forced to stand in a painful stress position for what may be days to break down her resistance. Her hands are nailed to a wall, blood dripping from the wounds. The cult leader Jerry (Taylor Nichols) explains that he knows how to fix her "bad conditioning," that human selfishness is the root of everyone's misery and she will thank him when she gives in to the cult's "four foundations." Can Sarah escape in time?
Is it any good?
The protagonist in this movie tries to escape a real-life nightmare, but the true nightmare is trying to watch this. Take solace in the fact that you can turn it off. First, 1BR is a shameless rip off of Jordan Peele's Get Out in which a community of seemingly friendly white people kidnap, brutalize, and lobotomize Black people, motivated by their hateful racism. Here the kidnapping, brutality, and lobotomizing are performed with no motivation at all. Director-writer David Marmor fills the movie with creepy horror clichés -- creaking pipes, disturbing music -- to argue that we're watching a horror movie rather than some form of mindless, violent exploitation. He loses that argument. Filled with gratuitous violence (a woman's hands are nailed to a wall and a man tries to hammer a screwdriver into a woman's ear), this purports to be about a cult seeking to spread the good word of selfless communal living. Yet each community member has been kidnapped, tortured, branded, and imprisoned. No worries, there's a philosophy behind the cult's actions, a quest to cure the lonely by way of the "four foundations," openness, acceptance, selflessness, and, most important, "security." An example of the last foundation? The prisoners, uh, tenants, are asked to mutilate and even kill each other when community members try to rebel or escape.
As in The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Divergent, which 1BR also resembles, a young person is trapped in a dystopia, but the other movies, released between 2012 to 2014, ultimately celebrated and rewarded rebellion against oppression. The world-weary 1BR tells our youth, Don't bother rebelling, it's useless.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how easy it is to victimize lonely isolated people. Why do you think the cult targets people who aren't happy in their lives?
Is the violence gratuitous, or is it necessary to the plot? Why?
What's the appeal of horror movies? How does 1BR compare to others you've seen?
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